One in eight older adults experienced depression for the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic

One in eight older adults experienced depression for the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic
Elderly

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A new large-scale study of more than 20,000 older adults in Canada found that about 1 in 8 older adults developed depression for the first time during the pandemic.

For those who had experienced depression in the past, the numbers were even worse. By fall 2020, nearly half (45%) of this group reported being depressed.

Posted in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Healththe research analyzed responses from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging, which collected data from participants for an average of seven years.

“The high rate of onset depression in 2020 highlights the substantial mental health toll the pandemic has inflicted on a previously mentally healthy group of people.” older adults.” says first author Andie MacNeil, a recent graduate of a Master of Social Work from the Factor-Inwentash College of Social Work (FIFSW) and the Institute for the Life Course and Aging at the University of Toronto.

While the increase in the prevalence of depression among older adults during the pandemic is well known, few previous studies have identified the percentage of people experiencing it for the first time or the percentage of people with a history of the disorder who experienced a relapse. .

“The devastation of the pandemic, which has disrupted so many aspects of daily life, hit people with a history of depression particularly hard,” says co-author Sapriya Birk, a researcher formerly with Carleton University’s Department of Neuroscience, Ottawa, and who is currently a professor medical student at McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada. “Health professionals must be vigilant when examining their patients who have had mental health problems at an earlier point in his life.

The researchers identified several factors that were associated with depression among older adults during the pandemic, including inadequate income and savings, loneliness, chronic pain, problems accessing health care, a history of adverse childhood experiences, and family conflict.

Older adults who, before the pandemic, perceived their income as insufficient to meet their basic needsand those who had less savings were more likely to develop depression during the pandemic.

“These findings highlight the disproportionate mental health burden borne by people of low socioeconomic status during the pandemic. Many of these socioeconomic risk factors may have been exacerbated by the economic precariousness of the pandemic, particularly for people with fewer resources.” says the co-author. Margaret de Groh, chief scientific officer for the Public Health Agency of Canada.

People who experienced various dimensions of loneliness, such as feeling left out, feeling isolated, and without company, had an approximately 4- to 5-fold increased risk of both incident and recurrent depression.

“It is not surprising that the lockdown has been particularly difficult for older adults who have been isolated and alone during the pandemic. Social connections and social support They are essential for well-being and mental health. Better support and outreach is needed for those who are isolated,” says co-author Ying Jiang, a senior epidemiologist at the Public Health Agency of Canada.

older adults in chronic pain and those who had trouble accessing their usual healthcare, medication or treatment were more likely to be depressed during the fall of 2020.

“This finding underscores the importance of optimizing service delivery to ensure less disruption to medical services when future pandemics emerge,” says co-author Professor Paul J. Villeneuve, Department of Neuroscience, Carleton University, Canada.

People with a history of childhood adversity were more likely to be depressed during the fall of 2020. Older adults who experienced family conflict during the pandemic had more than triple the risk of depression compared with their peers who did not.

“Family conflict is a major stressor that can affect mental health even in the best of times. With the forced close quarters of lockdown and the stress of the pandemic, there was considerable strain on many family relationships. The resulting conflict was a risk important for depression,” says lead author Professor Esme Fuller-Thomson of FIFSW at the University of Toronto and Director of the Institute for the Life Course and Aging.

The study was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. The study included 22,622 participants from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA) who provided data in the baseline cycle (2011-2015), follow-up cycle 1 (2015-2018), and during the pandemic (September-December 2020). The impact of the pandemic on depression among older Canadians may be even higher than observed because vulnerable populations were underrepresented in the CLSA.

“We hope our findings can help health and social work professionals improve targeted screening and outreach to identify and care for older adults at higher risk of depressionAndie MacNeil said.

More information:
Andie MacNeil et al, Incident and recurrent depression among adults aged 50 and over during the COVID-19 pandemic: a longitudinal analysis of the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (2022). DOI: 10.3390/ijerph192215032

Citation: One in Eight Older Adults Experienced Depression for the First Time During the COVID-19 Pandemic (November 24, 2022) Retrieved November 24, 2022 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-11-older- adults-experienced-depression-covid-.html

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